U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is at it again. On November 24, 2015, USCIS published a notice in the Federal Register of proposed changes to the Form I-9. The publication of the notice initiated a 60 day public comment period that will remain open until January 25, 2015.
By way of background, under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, employers are required to complete a Form I-9 for each new employee hired. The purpose of the Form I-9 is to verify the identity of each new employee and ensure that the new employee is authorized to work in the United States. The Form I-9 contains a list of acceptable documents for establishing an employee’s identity and authorization to work. Those documents include a U.S. Passport, Permanent Resident Card, driver’s license, social security card, and birth certificate, among others. More importantly, federal law requires employers to physically examine each document—with the employee physically present—to determine if the document reasonably appears to be genuine and relates to the employee presenting it.
The proposed changes to the Form I-9 released this November are intended to accomplish two goals: (i) reduce the number of technical errors on the Form I-9; and (ii) make it easier for employers completing the form on their computer as downloaded from the USCIS website. For example, here are some of the proposed substantive changes:
- Section 1: instead of requiring employees to provide all other names used, only other last names used will be required.
- Section 1: streamline the certification for certain foreign nationals.
- Instructions: separate the instructions from the form itself to adhere to USCIS’s practice.
- Instructions: revise explanation of purpose of form for employers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marina Islands (CNMI).
- Instructions: clarify instructions for completing the form for both employers and employees and the proper use of the Spanish version of the form.
In addition to these substantive changes, USCIS has also made some proposed technical changes to the Form I-9. These technical changes are (i) engineered to assist the customer by checking the fields to ensure information has been entered properly; (ii) offer additional space to enter multiple preparers and translators as well as additional space to enter further information that employers are currently required to note in the margins of the form; (iii) feature drop-down lists and calendars; (iv) create a quick-response matrix barcode (or QR code) once the form is printed; and (v) provide instructions to help the customer complete each field.
At the expiration of the 60 day public comment period, USCIS may make additional revisions to the Form I-9 based on comments received, and will publish a second notice for comment. The public will have an additional 30 day period to provide comment. Continue to check back with us for the status of this important immigration matter. Our firm is available to assist with your immigration needs. For more information, please contact Maria del Carmen Ramos at 813.227.2252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.